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Stranski v. Homer Township Highway Dep't

September 23, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer


Having prevailed before a jury on this employment discrimination case, Defendant Homer Township Highway Department seeks an award of costs in the amount of $10,224.33. Plaintiff Roseanne Stranski objects to portions of Defendant's bill of costs, and for the reasons explained here, her objections are sustained in part and overruled in part.

Rule 54(d)(1) provides that "costs other than attorneys' fees shall be allowed as of course to the prevailing party unless the court otherwise directs." Cefalu v. Village of Elk Grove, 211 F.3d 416, 427 (7th Cir. 2000). As the Court of Appeals has explained, that rule "establishes a presumption in favor of a cost award." Id. The Seventh Circuit as characterized the presumption as a "heavy" one. See M.T. Bonk Co. v. Milton Bradley Co., 945 F.2d 1404, 1409 (7th Cir. 1991); Congregation of the Passion, Holy Cross Province v. Touche, Ross & Co., 854 F.2d 219, 222 (7th Cir. 1988). Only certain statutorily-authorized categories of expense are recoverable, however. Cefalu, 211 F.3d at 427 (citing Crawford Fitting Co. v. J.T. Gibbons, Inc., 482 U.S. 437, 441-42 (1987)); Barber v. Ruth, 7 F.3d 636, 644 (7th Cir. 1993). Specifically, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1920, the following are recoverable:

(1) Fees of the clerk and marshal;

(2) Fees for printed or electronically recorded transcripts necessarily obtained for use in the case;

(3) Fees and disbursements for printing and witnesses;

(4) Fees for exemplification and the costs of making copies of any materials where the copies are necessarily obtained for use in the case;

(5) Docket fees under section 1923 of this title;

(6) Compensation of court appointed experts, [and payment for interpreter services]....

In reviewing Defendant's bill of costs, the court considers whether the amounts sought are of a type authorized by the statute and whether the costs were reasonably incurred. Majeske v. City of Chicago, 218 F. 3d 816, 824 (7th Cir. 2000) (citing Weeks v. Samsung Heavy Indus. Co., Ltd., 126 F.3d 926, 945 (7th Cir. 1997)). The court addresses Defendant's request for costs, and Plaintiff's objections, in the order outlined by statute.

1. Fees for Service

Defendant seeks an award of $145.00 for service of process on Officer Denise Powers and $95.00 for service of process on Tanya Berndt. As Plaintiff notes, the prevailing party is entitled to recover the costs of service of process only at the hourly rate charged by the United States Marshals Service. See Collins v. Gorman, 96 F.3d 1057, 1060 (7th Cir. 1996). By regulation effective December 19, 2008, the Marshals Service charges $55 per hour for service of process. See 28 C.F.R. § 0.114(a)(3). When an invoice fails to reflect the time spent effectuating service, courts typically award costs for one hour. See, e.g., Fox v. Will County, No. 04 C 7309, 2009 WL 723385, at *5 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 11, 2009) (Darrah, J.); Denson v. N. E. Ill. Reg'l Commuter R.R. Corp., No. 00 C 2984, 2003 WL 21506946, at *2 (N.D. Ill. June 27, 2003) (Hart, J.); Clarendon Nat. Ins. Co. v. Medina, No. 08 C 4245, 2010 WL 3526515, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 1, 2010) (Kendall, J.). Because Defendant's records do not reflect the time the process server devoted to service on these two witnesses, the court awards costs for one hour for each witness, for a total of $110.

2. Fees for Transcripts Necessarily Obtained

Defendant seeks fees for deposition transcripts for several witnesses. Expenses related to depositions are recoverable so long as they were reasonably necessary to the case. See State of Ill. v. Sangamo Const. Co., 657 F.2d 855, 867 (7th Cir. 1981). Plaintiff does not object to recovery of the court reporter's appearance fee for any of the depositions, nor does she object to recovery for the deposition transcript fees for Denise Powers, Bill Greenwalt, or Beth Marchbank. She does object to recovery of transcript fees for the depositions of Roseanne Stranski, Richard Kerley, and Franklin Dunn, on the ground that the receipts Defendant has submitted for those depositions do not include information concerning the per-page charge or number of pages in each transcript. These objections are overruled. Defendant has provided the requested information in its reply memoranda, where it points out that the depositions of Franklin Dunn and Richard Kerley were transcribed by a court reporting service selected by Plaintiff's counsel. The court presumes that Plaintiff is well aware of the length ...

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